Mushrooms are fruiting bodies used to distribute spores. There are four classes of mushrooms: parasitic, endophytic, mycorrhizal and saprophytic. Parasitic mushrooms grow on a live host and often kill the tree or plant. Endophytic fungi live within the host plant without injuring it, while mycorrhizal mushrooms have a mutually beneficial bond with their host. Saprophytic mushrooms decompose dead trees and plants and help build humus in the soil. Fungi serve several functions. Some can be eaten, but some are poisonous.
A mushroom is a kind of fungus with the Latin name of Agaricus bisporus. Other cultivated mushrooms in the Netherlands are the oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus) and the shiitake (Japanese mushroom) (Lentinula edodes).
In the vegetable kingdom, the mushroom is ranked with the heterotrophic organisms (lower plants). In contrast to the higher, green plants, these heterotrophs are not capable of photosynthesis. Fungi are the scavengers of nature. In mushroom cultivation, too, waste products, such as chicken manure, horse manure, straw, gypsum and wastewater (from their own composting) are used to produce a high-quality substrate, from which the mushrooms will grow. Ammonia is removed by means of an ammonia washer from the process air before it is returned to nature. Even the ammonia from the air is used as a source of nitrogen in composting. The fungus, also called mycelium, uses the compost as a source of energy for its combustion, in which energy is released that is used for growth.
Mushrooms are good for your health. They contain few calories but are rich in fibres, vitamins and minerals.